Trendy tennis stars hold court

NEW YORK • They are causing a racket - fashion-wise - at the ongoing tennis US Open.

From Maria Sharapova helping to design her latest little black dress to Alexander Zverev being reluctant to pull down his tube socks, their fashion statements are courting plenty of attention.

It is a battle of clothing manufacturers Nike and adidas with world-class action models displaying their style on the court and purchasers, not points, deciding the big apparel winners and losers.

Former world No. 1 Sharapova made a triumphant Grand Slam return after a 15-month doping ban by downing second-ranked Simona Halep, but crashed out to Anastasija Sevastova over the weekend, with a quarter-final berth in sight.

"Behind this little black dress and the Swarovski crystals, there is a girl with a lot of grit and she's not going anywhere," Sharapova vowed to the crowd after she had upset the odds by beating Halep.

The sequin-spangled onyx frock with the Nike swoosh came from Sharapova's work with Italian fashion designer Riccardo Tisci.

"I got to personally meet Riccardo," she said. "It was an incredible experience because it was just me and him sitting at my dining-room table at my house just talking inspiration, lace. He was still working at Givenchy at the time.

Tennis playerAlexander Zverev looking dapper in tube socks.
Tennis player Alexander Zverev looking dapper in tube socks. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

"I'm grateful for all the collaborations I've been a part of with Nike. This one, I think, is really special."

Vogue magazine reported the dress is priced at US$500 (S$680) with a matching jacket selling for US$700.

"It was always going to be black. It wasn't even a question of what we were going to do for the night matches," Sharapova told Vogue, citing the colour she wore when she won the 2006 US Open crown, one of her five career Grand Slam titles.

Tisci told Vogue: "It was special to design an outfit for an athlete playing on the court. That moment she had in 2006 was an iconic one and we wanted to honour it and be inspired by it.

"We decided to use lace and crystal, which are me; and black, which is my favourite colour and representative of my career, but also the colour that has brought a lot of luck for her.

"So, when we started talking about this project, it just made sense."

On the other end of the spectrum in colour and motif is the adidas line designed by musician Pharrell Williams.

His 1970s-inspired retro look with colours serves as the attire for several players, including Garbine Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Zverev, whose look was somewhat nerdy in his opening match with his white tube socks stretched high upon his legs.

"Williams, who was sitting in my box in the beginning of the match, designed my outfit," Zverev said after his opening victory over Darian King.

"He came up with the socks and, obviously, I didn't want to disappoint him and put them down while he was watching me.

"So that's what it looked like."

Muguruza told Vogue she loved the knitted mini-dress with knee socks. "It's retro and it's a throwback," she said. "I feel so cool with the different colours and the socks.

"I like to have bright colours and to feel feminine on the court. I think it's a good combination."

Williams, who had a 2013 smash hit with the song Happy, was happy that his ideas had scored.

"Silhouettes that were popular in the 1970s were strong," he told Vogue. "I haven't been able to get past that."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2017, with the headline 'Trendy tennis stars hold court'. Print Edition | Subscribe